Concealed at the bottom of the earth, at the spot where the globe-maker anchors this orb to its frame, Antarctica remains untouched by the cacophony of our time. It is a breathing space for our planet as much as for the human imagination. It is an elementary realm, a vantage point from which to contemplate our condition with a little more clarity.
In antiquity, a passion for symmetry demanded that the globe contain a landmass at the South Pole to balance the vast, known lands of the north. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Antarctica stood on the cusp between myth and reality—and its supposed existence inspired poets and tantalized explorers. In the early 20th, the exploration of the continent’s interior and the quest for the South Pole were precursors to the later race to the moon. Today, Antarctica demands our attention as the only continent that has not been made a country: a happy icon of international cooperation. But less happily, it is a climate archive, an early warning system, ground zero of our future.
In “Sans Nom,” I decided to focus on one element of the Antarctic landscape: the endless icebergs without name. These masses are totems of the underworld, looming at the frozen interface of water and atmosphere. Born from the perpetual transformation of the physical realm. At a time when the vulnerability of the
cryosphere is made increasingly apparent by the work of scientists, this series of photographs seeks to evoke the fragility, as well as the generative power of ice.
The series was taken in the Pridz Bay Region of East Antarctica between 1 am and 4 am, when the air was remarkably still and a thin mist descended upon a group of icebergs locked into the winter sea ice. Traveling through this ice-scape felt like entering a lost city, resembling Atlantis, where the icebergs replaced monumental ruins. The silence and desolation were profound—as if time had stopped. The ice crack embodies the first fissure in this world of stillness and silence. It is the first dramatic sign of the spring breakup of the sea ice.
For me, Antarctica is an object of continued visual and intellectual fascination. It is a wilderness that, however much it is scrutinized and deconstructed, remains unmoved in its glacial quietude, its penetrating silence, and its ability to draw us, one degree at a time, toward the essential.
—Jean De Pomereu